A new report has investigated the commercial viability, potential challenges and business models for autonomous vehicle ride-sharing.
Companies such as Uber and Tesla have made large investments in the development of autonomous vehicles in recent years, and many have predicted that such vehicles could begin to replace taxis and buses in the next few years. Autonomous vehicle ride-sharing could be a viable option, combining the convenience and cost-effectiveness that ride sharing offers consumers with potential energy efficiency and safety presented by increasing autonomy in transport.
The MERGE Greenwich consortium is an international group led by Addison Lee and includes members such as Ford, DG Cities, and the Royal Borough of Greenwich, UK. The consortium is dedicated to investigating the potential that autonomous vehicles hold for the future of transport, and published a report on its findings last month.
What did the report find about the commercial possibilities of the technology?
The consortium’s new report presents the results of a year-long project, during which the consortium used software simulation tools to test the viability of a variety of business and operational models for autonomous vehicle ride-sharing. These were then tested and evaluated against commercial requirements, to establish which would offer the best business case for the technology.
The report found a number of significant potential benefits to the wider adoption of autonomous vehicle technology, according to Andy Boland, CEO of the Addison Lee Group. These include:
- Reduced travel time;
- Greater convenience for passengers; and
- Reduced demand for car parking, allowing alternative use of space.
However, there are also challenges, particularly when it comes to adopting the technology at scale, because of how the behaviour of those using the service might change.
Boland said: “Modal shift from buses rather than private cars, raising of emissions and potentially greater congestion could occur if the introduction of the service was not synergic with existing transport systems. We are clear that challenges lie ahead.”
These challenges can be met through projects such as the consortium, which encourage stakeholders from all sectors to work in collaboration. Boland concluded: “The most difficult challenges remain ahead of us. If we are going to successfully adopt and embrace this technology, and realise the benefits for the good of cities and citizens, we must work in partnership.”